Drug addict blew £40k on crack and torched his flat ‘because angels told him to’

A man who blew £40,000 on drugs and said he set fire to his flat “because angels told him to” has been branded a "very high and imminent risk” to the public by a judge.

Michael Pinder, 37, who also threatened to kill his mum, set fire to her house and told airport security he had a bomb in his rucksack.

This week he was jailed for setting fire to his home in the former Plane Tree pub in Burnley, Lancashire, while high on crack cocaine.

Judge Graham Knowles QC sentenced him to four and a half years behind bars with a five year extended licence.

The judge said he had imposed the sentence to protect the public from what he said was a "very high and imminent risk" posed by Pinder.

During the hearing at Preston Crown Court, Judge Knowles QC said Pinder had spent time in a psychiatric hospital as well as on the prison wing and had displayed troubling behaviour in both settings.

In hospital he tried to incite other residents to sexually assault a member of staff and on the wing he exposed his genitals, Judge Knowles said.

The court heard Pinder has long-standing mental health problems but continues to take drugs because he enjoys them – despite knowing that they make his condition worse.

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"The complex mental health history is closely tied up with the defendant's long term abuse by choice of illegal drugs," the judge said, "and there is much manipulation and deeply troubling, offensive and frightening behaviour, towards all those – including those in prison, who try to deal with this defendant.

"As far as the use of drugs, which the defendant has clearly said he takes because he enjoys, these days since it became regularly available his drug of choice is crack.

Judge Knowles added: "On one occasion he came about a sum of around £40,000 through either inheritance or compensation, it is not clear. The whole amount was run down in practically no time having been spent on drugs."

On July 7, 2020 Pinder set fire to a sofa in his flat in the Plane Tree. The building had been converted into six apartments and there were several other residents at home – including a man whose children were visiting.

The building was evacuated and Pinder himself suffered the effects of smoke inhalation.

He pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

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